Cooking with kids Archives

Pumpkin pie

This week, we finally got to make the pumpkin pie that Abby wanted to make a few weekends ago.  But the last time I had made pumpkin pie, it wasn’t very tasty and I wasn’t impressed.  Mind you, that was also when I had bought some gluten-free graham crackers to make into a crust, and they burnt in the oven, so it wasn’t a great product even without the filling.  I managed to get the recipe from a colleague, who I won the ‘no refined-sugar’ challenge against back in January – he gave me a piece of his pumpkin pie as my winnings and, while the crust wasn’t that great, the filling was really nice. So we decided to give it a go.

And, me being me, decided to change it up a bit anyway.  Instead of my never-fail ugly crust recipe (see here), I thought I could use some granola and crush that up fine with some dairy-free shortening.  You know when you get to the bottom of a granola container and it’s just crumbs, that doesn’t taste that good?  Well, we were there with some of my granola that I’d made (based on my 5P’s granola, see here for recipe) and I didn’t feel like forcing myself to eat this granola for the rest of the week.  So we got out the trusty Ninja, and ‘wazzed’ it into crumbs, melted some shortening and then mixed it all together.  Abby and I had a great time pushing the mixture into the pie tin with our hands, a spoon, a cup, anything we could think of since I had read that this had to be really compacted.

And then we made the filling – pumpkin puree, almond milk, maple syrup, raw sugar (see, no refined sugar in this!), corn starch, and of course pumpkin pie spice.  And the result:

2015-05-16 Pumpkin pieLooks pretty good, doesn’t it?  We couldn’t wait for it to cool completely, so we all had a piece while it was still relatively luke-warm.  Grant’s comment was that he tasted too much pumpkin in it (sigh!), Abby said it rocked.  I’m going with Abby’s reaction!  Anyway, I thought it tasted really good by itself but the rest of the family had some ice cream with it as well.

And then Abby and I got to go clothes shopping together – ah, the life of a teenager!  We had a good time and profitable too with no arguments and three items of clothing purchased all within about 10 mins of entering the store.  That’s my type of shopping!

Anyway, back to the cooking bit – if you’d like me to post the recipe for this no refined-sugar, gluten and dairy-free pumpkin pie, please let me know in the comments below … or I may just have to keep the secret all to myself!

Until next time, enjoy cooking at home … with kids!



Mother’s Day weekend

Happy Mother’s Day!  Especially to my mum …

I got thoroughly spoiled this weekend, with lots of kids in the kitchen time.  Let me take you through a run-down of how it all went:

Saturday breakfast (in bed):

2015-05-09 Pancakes

The kids found some gluten-free pancake mix on special at the local grocery store while they were out shopping for other presents and decided to make some for me.  I wanted it slightly healthy so requested some blueberries and strawberries with some 100% maple syrup.  So both kids were involved in the cooking of these …  And Henry made it into a smiley-face – how sweet!  Unfortunately, with the fruit cooked into the pancakes, they didn’t cook all the way through so I ended up eating some dough … things we do for our kids!

Saturday lunch: we went out to an Indian buffet restaurant where I knew I could get some really good gluten-free stuff.  And the kids and Grant could eat to their hearts content.  I’ve learned to stay away from the buffets due to the possibility of contamination with gluten-containing foods, but the food I got off the menu was great!  And Abby and I had made a chocolate peanut butter pie for dessert, adapted from this recipe (here).

2015-05-09 Chocolate peanut butter pie

Looked impressive, and no refined sugar as well!  Unfortunately the peanut butter layer was a little bland and there was too much of it in proportion to the rest of the ingredients, so it wasn’t really a winner.  I’m still learning about all this stuff, so I guess I should expect some failures!

Sunday lunch:

Abby wanted to cook lunch for me, so she chose my favorite creamy broccoli and bacon pasta (recipe here), with all the substitutes to make it gluten and dairy-free.

2015-05-10 Bacon & broccoli pasta

I liked the pasta – Grant was concerned that there wasn’t enough sauce since we had to use the coconut milk ‘cream’ instead of actual cream, but I thought it was great.  Abby did a great job mostly cooking it all by herself, with a little help from Grant of course!

And Henry REALLY wanted to make a cake for me – so when they were out shopping he found a gluten-free chocolate cake mix that he made with Grant.  

2015-05-10 Henry's chocolate cakeThis actually didn’t taste too bad.  And we found some 99% lactose free ice cream on special, so that just topped it off nicely!

I am so spoiled by my awesome children – and they had fun cooking in the kitchen this weekend too, so everyone wins.

Until next time, enjoy cooking at home … with kids!



Today you’re in for a treat, because I got to spend time with both kids in the kitchen this week.  

Abby had suggested we make a pumpkin pie for our weekly Mummy-Abby time, but then Grant had gone and bought me some gluten-free cinnamon rolls that were on special, just to make me feel special.  Unfortunately, the rolls really didn’t taste that good.  He had bought two packs of 4, so now we had 6 large, boring tasting cinnamon rolls that we could either throw out, keep in the freezer to try again at some time, or use them in some way to make something nice out of them.  I chose the latter.  Abby and I made a cinnamon roll pudding – basically cut up the cinnamon rolls, added the sauce and some walnuts, then made a dairy-free custard to kind of simulate a bread pudding.  I tell you, it made the boring tasting cinnamon rolls taste so much better!  

2015-05-02 Abby's cinnamon roll puddingSo what is shown here is my serving of the cinnamon roll pudding with some almond ice cream on top.  It was ok, the flavor was ok, but it wasn’t dazzling.  I don’t think the recipe is a keeper, but at least I now know what I can do with leftover bread products that are either stale or lacking in flavor!

This morning when I got up, Henry said he wanted to surprise the rest of the family with some cookies for breakfast.  I said I didn’t think cookies for breakfast was such a good idea, but he was adamant he wanted to create a recipe that I could use for this website.  Since he’s watched me make stuff a lot, and that I just throw in bits and pieces until it looks right (yes Mum, that comment was just for you!), he wanted to do the same.  I was able to guide him a little bit, but ultimately he made the decision as to how much and what to put in.  The end result?  Well, it was more like a scone (biscuits to the US readers) than a cookie, but it was quite yummy with honey or jam on top.

Henry was quite proud of himself and the outcome.  And the fact that he got to eat the leftover dough.  And that I relented and everyone had one of these at breakfast time (after a bit more healthy food!).  I was proud of Henry for wanting to do something for the family, so he got a tick in his ‘Random Act Of Kindness’ box for the week (earning him a little more pocket money!).  And here is my awesome son with his finished product:

2015-05-02 Henry and biscuits

So we had fun this week cooking with the kids.  I’d love to hear from any of you – just leave comments on any of the recipes or blog posts, and subscribe to get the latest recipes.  

Until next week, which will be Mother’s Day cooking, so I get to dictate what Abby and I make, enjoy cooking at home … with kids!






Brownies and the FISH lunch

One of the great things about our church in Australia was the concept of having a FISH Lunch, not having fish and chips for lunch, but Fellowship in Someone’s Home.  We brought this with us to our current church and this weekend was the first FISH lunch.  Naturally we volunteered to be hosts and ended up having a total of 16 people for lunch.  On the menu for the main meal was:

  • Peanut satay chicken (recipe here)
  • Spinach and peach salad (recipe here)
  • Spanish potato salad (recipe here)
  • Creamy broccoli and bacon pasta (recipe here)

This was the first time I also had to make these dairy-free, so I’ve updated the recipe pages for those of you with dairy problems as well.  All of these turned out really well so please try them!

FISH lunch April

In amongst all of this, our weekly Mummy-Abby time consisted of making one of the desserts for the lunch.  It was supposed to be the chocolate chip cookie dough brownies (recipe here), but we baked the brownie portion in a too-small pan so they rose quite considerably.  I suggested we then make normal brownies with a chocolate frosting, and this is what they turned out like.

2015-04-26 Brownies #2


I deliberately didn’t make these gluten or dairy-free, just so I wasn’t tempted to eat them, along with everything else that was available.  Everyone who tried them said they were great, so well done Abby!

Oh, and for those of you playing along at home, yes I did make the Anzac cheesecake, yes I did make it gluten and dairy free (with the proper golden syrup) and yes it was AWESOME!  Recipe will be coming in the next few days on this website to keep your eyes out for that.

White chocolate cheesecake (GF and DF)


Not quite sure what is in the future for Mummy-Abby time next week, you will just have to check back here and find out!

Until next time, enjoy cooking at home … with kids!


The great Anzac biscuit challenge

April 25 is Anzac Day in Australia – the day that Australians celebrate the anniversary of the first major military action fought by Australian and New Zealand forces during the First World War.  And in Australia, we commemorate the day by baking Anzac biscuits (cookies to my US readers), to remember the wives of soldiers who baked these and sent them over to the soldiers since they did not spoil easily and the biscuits kept well during transportation.  Typically they are made of rolled oats, flour, desiccated coconut, sugar, butter, golden syrup, baking soda and boiling water … do you see any problems with this considering my current state of allergies??

So I followed the recipe that I have on this website (here) and changed it up a little.  Gluten-free flour blend for the flour, vegetable shortening for the butter and for the golden syrup … who knew that you couldn’t find golden syrup on the grocery store shelves here in the US like in Australia?  I asked my mum what could be a good substitute … she suggested a mix of molasses, corn syrup and other stuff.  I did some research and found I could substitute with a mix of corn syrup and honey or maple syrup.  So Abby and I came up with the Great Anzac Biscuit Challenge.

We made a double batch of the recipe, but had 4 different combinations of light and dark corn syrup, honey and maple syrup.

We tried really hard to get them all prepared the same … and here was the result:

2015-04-18 Anzac biscuits


You can see on the parchment paper our labelling system – LCS, MS, etc … 

The verdict from the 4 taste testers (the family) … they all tasted pretty much the same, but none of them really had that deep golden-syrup flavor that we have come to know and love in our Anzac biscuits.  Grant suggested I use all of them mixed together as a crust for our Anzac Day cheesecake, and then we went on a search to find real golden syrup.  And we did!  So next weekend, to celebrate Anzac Day, our family will be partaking of our infamous white chocolate cheesecake (recipe here), made gluten-free and dairy-free, with Anzac biscuits as the base and as chunks throughout the cheesecake and a golden syrup swirl throughout.  We had such a great experience with this last year (see the picture below), that I really REALLY want to recreate it this year.

Anzac cheesecake

Anzac cheesecake

 So next week I’ll update you with how Abby and I go with this …

Until then, enjoy cooking at home … with kids!


Triple chocolate cheesecake

When Abby originally went through my recipe folder, she found this recipe.  It’s off the back of a Philadelphia cream cheese packet and I don’t think I’ve ever made it before, it was just there, waiting to be made for the first time.  And now the challenge was to make it gluten-free and dairy-free.  Well, check it out:

2015-04-11 Triple chocolate cheesecake #2

The base was my stock-standard chocolate peanut butter cookie recipe (see here), baked and then smashed into smithereens by Abby, a Ziplock bag and a rolling pin.  The crumbs she made were awesome!  The great thing about that recipe is that when using the cookies as a crust, or pie base, you often don’t need to add any more butter (or non-dairy alternative).  And that was the case this time as well – the base just came together really well, with Abby pushing to all corners of the pie tin!

The filling – 3 tubs of non-dairy cream cheese (expensive, but had to be done … probably just this once, though!), 2/3 cup of sugar mixed thoroughly.  Then 3 lots of 100g of white chocolate, milk chocolate and dark chocolate melted individually.  The cream cheese mixture got added to the chocolate, then some whipped coconut cream (the top part of a can of coconut milk that has been chilled in the refrigerator overnight) folded through it.  Into the fridge overnight and the next day … it was pretty decadent!

2015-04-11 Triple chocolate cheesecake

This was probably one of the most adventurous dishes Abby and I have attempted, and probably won’t attempt again in the near future.  But it was fun doing it with her … gotta enjoy every moment she actually wants to spend with me before she really hits her teenage strides!

Hope you’ve enjoyed reading our adventures – until next week, enjoy cooking in the kitchen … with kids!




A challenging weekend.  Abby’s birthday is next week, which is Easter, so we decided to hold her party a week earlier.  So I got to play host to nine 12-13 girls while Grant and Henry did some other stuff (like get a yellow belt in karate – go Henry!).  Anyway, trying to figure out what to do for Mummy-Abby time this weekend was interesting, considering most of today was just us two, either getting ready for the party or actually in the party.  Here was the menu for her lunch:

Main course:

  • taco nacho dippo thingos – taco meat in a bowl that you dip tortilla chips into, you can also put other fixings (like cheese, avocado, sour cream etc) on top but it’s just fun to eat!
  • BBQ meatlovers pizza – BBQ sauce with pepperoni, bacon, turkey and pineapple
  • healthy stuff – carrots, celery, cucumber and bell peppers (capsicum for the Australians reading this!)


  • fairy bread – hopefully you don’t need me to explain what that is
  • chocolate crackle cookies – the subject of this post
  • healthy stuff – make-your-own fruit salad with bananas, blueberries, mango, pineapple, strawberries and blueberries
  • THE cake to end all cakes.

So while I didn’t make the cake (thanks to my wonderful husband, who is the pancake guru), I have to show off the photo of the cake – layers of pancakes with maple syrup and chocolate sauce with cookies & cream Easter eggs on top …

2015-03-28 Abby's pancake cakeBut, back to the cookies.  Part of my ideas for what to do for Abby’s party involved making some sugar cookie dough, rolling it out and having the girls cut out the shapes of their hands and decorate them – kind of artsy-crafty, kind of food-related, definitely a time-waster!  I got the idea from an episode of the Pioneer Woman and the recipe can be found here and part of it involved an egg yolk glaze.  So, me not wanting to waste anything thought about what recipes I could use the egg whites in … and immediately thought of these cookies.  And yes, they were on Abby’s list of recipes she wanted to do with me.  The recipe can be found here …

2015-03-28 Chocolate crackle cookies #2These have to be up there with my favorite cookies – crunchy on the outside, soft and chewy on the inside.  And naturally gluten and dairy free.  Not sugar-free, though, there’s a heap of powdered sugar in these!  And for the first time in ages, I didn’t lick the bowl, or have spoonful after spoonful of the dough before it was cooked.  And I’ve only had 2 of the finished products.  Kind of helps when you can give that privilege to your kids, I guess!

2015-03-28 Chocolate crackle cookies

So the party went off really well (I think).  And the only pressing issue we have right now is what to do with all the leftovers?  Any takers??

Until next time, enjoy cooking at home … with kids!




Mini caramel cheesecakes

My challenge with Abby this week – gluten-free, dairy-free caramel cheesecakes.  I have made this recipe once before, about 2 years ago, and they were a success, but used a lot of ingredients that I now cannot eat without suffering the consequences.  When Abby was going through my recipe book a few weeks ago, she spotted this one … and I agreed to make it with her, with a great deal of trepidation.  But then I remembered the objective was to spend quality time with Abby, irrespective of what the final product turned out like (like last week!).

The crust was made of almonds, almond meal and coconut milk (along with baking soda and some other things), so naturally gluten free.  Ok.

The filling suggested cream cheese, sugar, eggs and vanilla.  Fortunately I had found some dairy-free cream cheese for the worms in the mud (see post here) so I just stocked up on some more.  So that was ok.

The caramel topping … hmmm, all the recipes I have in my folder and have found on the internet contain some sort of butter or milk or other lactose-containing ingredients.  So I found a few ‘healthy’ caramel topping recipes and thought I’d give one a go.  This one used sugar, vanilla and coconut milk.  I was skeptical that it wouldn’t set, but remain a sauce, but thought that wouldn’t matter since we could always put it on ice cream for sundaes (sorry, the ‘we’ there would be the rest of the family, not me!).

Anyway, here’s what the finished product looked like:

2015-03-20 Mini caramel cheesecakes

I was right – the caramel didn’t set, so it was a bit messy eating them.  But the overall verdict was that they tasted great … can’t really do much more than that (apart from having the caramel set, I guess)!

And the ultimate objective of spending quality time with Abby was met.  We had lots of fun making these … can’t wait to see what she’s chosen for our next Mummy-daughter time!

Until next time, enjoy cooking at home … with kids!



Banana custard pie

Someone very wise once said ‘the only constant in life is change’ (anyone who knows who said this, feel free to comment below!).  That was so true this week as we tried to figure out Mummy-Abby and Mummy-Henry time.  Our ideas ranged from mini caramel cheesecakes, through to peach cobbler, date and lemon scones and chocolate crackle cookies.  And trying to figure out when to bake/make these things considering our night-time schedules are becoming more and more filled in.

But then we received an e-mail from my Dad (thanks Grandpa), reminding us that today, March 14 2015 is actually related to PI.  If you look at the way Americans show their dates, today is 3-14-15, which are the first 5 numbers in PI, the value to calculate the circumference and the area of a circle.  And he suggested we make a pie.  And when my dad suggests that I make something … there’s usually no good reason not to!

Grant has been asking me to make a banana custard pie FOREVER.  But I have always hesitated because I haven’t had much success with custard in the past, as my brother and his wife will testify to.  Anyway, we had some egg yolks left over from when Abby and I made our pavlova last week (read more here) and I found a recipe for custard that used exactly the same amount of egg yolks that we had.  It was like it was meant to be …

So Abby and I made my ugly pie crust (recipe here), substituting coconut oil for the butter and almond milk for the milk.  Added some bananas and then cooked up the custard.

2015-03-14 Banana custard pie


We actually put the bananas on the bottom of the pie, but they managed to rise up during the cooking process (anyone tell me why?).  Also sprinkled some nutmeg on top.

2015-03-14 Banana custard pie slice

Yeah, this wasn’t a success.  The custard just wasn’t ‘custard-y’.  I kind of got pretty bummed out over it all, even though the kids thought it tasted ok.  Better luck next week I guess.

Henry was going to help, but decided Mummy-Henry time this weekend would be watching a movie together.  And the movie was …. Harry Potter 4: The Goblet of Fire.

Until next time, enjoy cooking at home … with kids,



I didn’t realize just how Australian a pavlova is (or New Zealand-ish for those who want to get really picky) until I mentioned that the dessert of the week to be cooked by Abby and myself for Mummy-daughter time was pavlova.  The amount of blank stares I got when I mentioned this … well, it was an interesting time!  

Anyway, I’ve had this recipe in my folder for a number of years now, but have never really tried it myself.  In Australia we used to be able to get a ‘Pavlova egg’, with all the dry ingredients in the plastic ‘egg-shell’ and the shell breaking into carefully measured proportions that you needed for the rest of the wet ingredients.  So simple a 4-year old can make it … and Henry did for his kindergarten class.  He was the star of the end-of-year party!  

Moving to Chile meant that we no longer had the cheats way of making pavlova … and here’s where the Internet came to the rescue.  That, and the experience of Grant’s dad when Nanna and Poppa came to visit.  Henry and Poppa made this recipe to take to a typical Chilean BBQ lunch and it turned out really well.  So I kept it in my recipe folder but never tried it.  Until this week …

2015-03-06 Pavlova

This is what it looked like when it came out of the oven, prior to decorating.  I had tried making a chocolate pavlova before, but failed miserably, so I was kind of proud of this effort.  All the pavlova contains is egg whites, sugar, vanilla, vinegar and a little corn-starch.  Pretty simple, but very easy for things to go wrong.

But here’s where the fun comes.  Decorating with whipped cream and fruit.  Now, for those of you playing along at home, you will remember that I’m thinking I might be lactose intolerant, so I’m steering away from dairy products.  So I tried the trick I’ve seen many people use for non-dairy whipped cream – coconut milk chilled in the fridge over night forms a layer of cream that can be whipped like ‘normal cream’.  I did that, added some vanilla and a little honey and it tasted pretty good, if I do say so myself.  But it didn’t make enough whipped cream to cover the whole pavlova, so I cut the pavlova into portions, covered what I thought I would eat with the coconut cream and then used Cool Whip for the rest of the family.  And then chopped up some fresh strawberries and Abby helped me to place them on top.

2015-03-06 Pavlova finished

The finished product was crunchy on the outside and a little chewy on the inside.  We probably overcooked it a little, so next time (if there is a next time), we’ll cut back the time by about 10-15 minutes.  But it was 100x better than my chocolate pavlova attempt.  The family (and I) loved it and Abby and I had a ball making it, so a win-win situation all round.

The movie this week for Family Movie Night was Garfield … Abby’s choice!

Until next time, enjoy cooking at home … with kids!


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